Unrally 2011

Each year, the some dedicated members of the BMW SportTouring.com web forum organize a gathering known as The Unrally. Previous Unrally locations have included Topaz Lake in Gardnerville, Nevada (2010), Lancaster, NH (2009) John Day, Oregon (2008), Fayetteville, West Virginia (2007), and more. The 2011 Unrally , aka Unrally X, was held at the Little Switzerland Inn in Little Switzerland, North Carolina on August 8-11, 2011.

Months ahead of time, I had made plans to attend and stay with fellow CCBMW Riders Club member Paul Winter. Unfortunately, due to a personal commitment, I was unable to join Paul at the Unrally until Tuesday, August 9th. I left around 7 a.m. and used my usual route up Highway 74 west, then taking a back road at Polkton that allows me to avoid the normal traffic backups in Monroe. After clearing Charlotte and reaching Shelby, I headed northwest on back roads to Marion, stopping there for lunch shortly after 12 noon. I managed to reached the Little Switzerland Inn shortly after 1 p.m. 

The Unrally's location on the Blue Ridge Parkway afforded some cooler, less humid weather compared to what we had recently been experiencing at the North Carolina coast. After checking in at the Switzerland Inn shortly after lunch, I decided to ride south approximately 20 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell.  After all, I needed my park picture for our BMW motorcycle club's NC State Parks Challenge Ride.

The temperatures at the mountain peak were a wonderful 68 degrees (compared to the 90 degree temperatures back in Wilmington that day), it was a clear day, and the views were fantastic.

Paul Winter and I finally met at the Switzerland Inn later that afternoon and attended the "free beer social" held before dinner time. (I missed the ice cream social held the prior evening.)

In advance of the Unrally, BMWSportTouring.com member Ken Insley prepared a GPS file and PDF document with a collection of suggested ride routes for the area. However, on Wednesday, rather than using the pre-arranged routes, Paul and I headed out on our own to explore some of the local road north and east of the Switzerland Inn area. We had a great day's ride, including a stop for lunch in Blowing Rock. Our ride included several great back roads. Unfortunately, I subsequently learned about a quirk of my Garmin Zumo that caused it to not record a track for the route we followed. Due to the size of the latest Garmin map sets,  my Zumo had almost no free memory left to store track files. A painful lesson to learn – especially since those roads were so much fun to ride!

That evening, CCBMW club members Jerry and Barb Dockery arrived and were able to join Paul and I for the big Unrally dinner.  There was barbecue, chicken, and all the fixings.

After dinner, it was time to sit back and watch the moon rise over the Smokey Mountains.

On Thursday, the Unrally ended and everyone began their trips home – some as far north as Canada and others west to Texas and beyond. Paul and I decided to extend our mountain stay a little longer. We headed south on the BRP down, made a quick run to the top of Mount Mitchell where we met and talked with the owner of a classic Honda CBX.

After Mount Mitchell, we headed south on the BRP through Asheville and the Pisgah National Forest area. In Sylva, we stopped for lunch at a great restaurant, Lulu's on the Main Cafe, before starting to ride back eastward. If you are passing through Sylva, I recommend you stop at Lulu's!

We then rode to Lake Toxaway, Old Hendersonville, Bat Cave and Lake Lure, and eventually stopped in Gastonia for the evening. We finished our trip home the following morning, stopping for breakfast in Whiteville.

All told, it was a great Unrally. Plans for the 2012 Unrally are already underway, so be sure to monitor the Unrally XI discussion on BMWSportTouring.com.